As local bodies here will gear up to cash in on the new Government Order that unauthorised drinking water connections can be regularised, the Coimbatore Consumer Cause has said this only seeks to legitimise a wrongful practice.
In a letter to the Secretary of Municipal Administration and Water Supply on Wednesday, secretary of the consumer body K. Kathirmathiyon said the order sought to send a wrong message that people could obtain unauthorised connections at will and be confident that these would certainly get regularised.
By not fixing a cut off date on the connections that could be regularised, the Government had only sought to encourage the practice of obtaining unauthorised connections, it was pointed out in the letter.
Mr. Kathirmathiyon referred to an order issued in 2002 for town panchayats and municipalities, which said that a penalty of Rs.3,000 for domestic connections and Rs.5,000 for non-domestic connections could be collected for regularisation.
The latest order (issued on April 12, 2010) did not use the word penalty.
It only spoke of regularisation by collecting the necessary deposit amount.
While the Commissioner of Municipal Administration had recommended twice the deposit amount as penalty, along with the normal deposit for regularisation, the latest order said the regularisation could be done with just twice the deposit amount.
Prior to these orders, unauthorised connections attracted criminal action because these amounted to illegal tapping of a public utility.
It was even considered water theft. But, such connections survived all these years without any action from the local bodies concerned.
Now, many builders or individuals would take water connections on their own from the main supply line and get these regularised later.
Till these connections were detected, those who owned these would manage to evade payment of water consumption charges to the local bodies.
Such priced amnesty would only encourage illegal actions, he warned.
Welcoming the order on regularisation, Coimbatore Mayor R. Venkatachalam said this would certainly mean more revenue for the local bodies.
Asserting that there were no unauthorised connections in the Corporation limits, he said the civic body would ensure there were no unauthorised connections in future also.
The new regularisation scheme should be welcomed as it would certainly bring financial benefit to the local bodies that had been losing precious revenue through unauthorised connections.
“Local bodies have to pay salaries to water supply staff and also water and scheme maintenance charges to the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board. Therefore, more revenue is important,” he said.
Keywords: Water supply